The Montgomery County Board of Education (Board) held a business meeting on October 5, 2021.
During the meeting, the Board received an update on reopening schools; took action on the 2021 Every Student Succeeds Act Consolidated Strategic Plan; received an update regarding Board of Education Strategic Plan; took action regarding options for Board election districts; amended COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate resolution; approved preliminary construction plans; made an administrative appointment; and took action on new business items.
The agenda for the meeting, as well as links to related materials and the meeting recording, can be viewed on the Board website.
Reopening Schools Update
The Board received an update on the reopening of schools that included information about plans for instruction when students must quarantine, contingency planning to mitigate learning disruption should the state of Maryland require virtual or hybrid learning, and how the pandemic has impacted enrollment of international students.
Elementary Regional QuaranTEAMs will allow students in quarantine access to live instruction in math and literacy on a daily basis in a regional model. This model was launched on October 1, 2021, and will continue to be revised as Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) develops a model for secondary students.
Administration also shared contingency instructional plans, should they be needed. A shift to a systemwide contingency instructional model only would occur if the school system is ordered to do so by state government officials. Contingency instructional models may vary based on school level and grade level; select student groups will be prioritized for full-time in-person instruction, irrespective of a move to contingency instruction.
The Board also received an update on the work in the International Admissions and Enrollment office. Staff shared the historical work of this office and discussed how and why the work has increased and changed the past two years, as well as how applications will be processed in a timely fashion.
2021 Every Student Succeeds Act Consolidated Strategic Plan
This year, the Maryland State Department of Education is returning to full submissions of local school system consolidated strategic plans and requiring school systems to use an equity lens to identify disparities and the response to those disparities. As a result of the lack of state assessment data during the pandemic, local school systems were asked to develop a plan based on their local assessment data in the 2020-2021 school year. The Local ESSA Consolidated Strategic Plan includes an Annual Update, Executive Summary, Summarizes progress MCPS is making in accelerating student performance and eliminating the achievement gap, section on areas of focus, a needs assessment (describes processes used to determine areas of focus through an equity lens); and updates on the federal programs. The Board approved MCPS’ final submission of the 2021 Every Student Succeeds Act Consolidated Strategic Plan.
Board of Education Strategic Plan
The Board received an update on the development of the Fiscal Year 2022–2025 Board of Education Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan represents MCPS’ continued commitment to its core values: Learning, Relationships, Respect, Excellence, and Equity. In addition to the continuation of the six strategic priorities identified for the Fiscal Year 2018–2021 Strategic Plan, it was decided to add a seventh priority of students’ social emotional needs. This priority was added in direct response to the complexities that have impacted our students and families as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Board Election Districts
The boundaries of the five Board districts in Montgomery County must be redrawn after each decennial census to bring the districts into conformance with the requirement that each district shall be “substantially equal in population,” in accordance with Section 3-901(a)(2) of the Education Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland. During the upcoming legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly must redraw the districts so that they are in place for the June 2022 primary election and the November 2022 general election.
The Board recommended Option B, which is a slight modification from the current map. This option uses the pre-existing Board election district lines with some modifications to bring the district populations closer to the target population. The modifications consist of District 2 annexing portions of District 3, and District 5 annexing portions of District 4. The Board voted that Option B be submitted as its preferred redistricting plan to the county’s state legislative delegation for incorporation into a local bill to be introduced in the next session of the Maryland General Assembly.
Preliminary Plans Presentation—Silver Spring International Middle School Addition Project
The Board approved the preliminary plans report for the Silver Spring International Middle School Addition project, developed by RRMM Architects, P.C. Plans were developed based on the educational specifications prepared by MCPS. Through a series of public work sessions, several design options were developed and evaluated. The proposed plans presented were reviewed and subsequently modified in accordance with recommendations and suggestions received during the schematic design work sessions.
New Business Items
The Board amended its resolution on staff mandates so that the deadlines for all MCPS staff to provide COVID-19 vaccination verification were extended. Verification that the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination has been received must be submitted by October 15, 2021, and verification of the second dose must be submitted no later than November 15, 2021 (as applicable), unless staff request an exemption based on a medical reason documented by a medical doctor. If a medical exemption is granted, the employee must submit to regular COVID-19 testing as required by MCPS.
The Board also brought forward a resolution to direct the interim superintendent to explore the possibility of identifying and offering a .5 credit financial literacy course, that will be required for all students beginning with students entering Grade 9 for the 2023-2024 school year (class of 2028) and that the interim superintendent provide a report to the Board about the feasibility of this requirement no later than January 2022. This will be revisited at the next meeting.
The Board of Education approved the appointment of Ryvell D. Fitzpatrick, currently assistant ombudsman for public education, Office of the Ombudsman for Public Education, District of Columbia State Board of Education, as ombudsperson, Office of the Board of Education.
The Board is scheduled to hold its next business meeting on Tuesday, October 26, 2021. The Board will meet in person. The agenda is subject to change. Please check the Board of Education website and meeting calendar for further information.